Causes Of Canine Skin Cancer
Canine skin cancer can have a wide variety of causes. Veterinary experts at VCA Animals Hospitals note that genetics play a large role in determining whether a pup is likely to develop cancer. In fact, a dogs genetics are the number one risk factor for skin cancer, and many cancers are indeed the result of a genetic predisposition.
Some dog breeds are more prone to certain forms of skin cancer. For example, Miniature and Standard Schnauzers and Scottish Terriers are at an increased risk of developing malignant melanoma than other breeds. AKC notes that Boxers, Pugs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and Boston Terriers seem to be particularly susceptible to having mast cell tumors at some point, while Bloodhounds, Basset Hounds, Poodles, and Norwegian Elkhounds are more prone than other breeds to squamous cell carcinoma.
Just like for humans, too much sun exposure can increase a pups chances of developing skin cancer. This is particularly true for short-, fine-haired dogs with light-colored skin visible on their bellies, such as Chihuahuas and Greyhounds. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, squamous cell tumors can be caused by overexposure to harmful UV rays.
Other triggers for dog skin cancer can include exposure to harmful chemicals in their environment, hormonal abnormalities, and certain types of viruses. The exact causes of mast cell tumors are not known, but VCA notes that this form of skin cancer has been linked to skin irritants, inflammation, and genetic factors.
What Does Skin Cancer Look Like On Dogs
It can take many different forms, including lesions, scabs, warty lumps and bumps on the skin. They may be black, brown, grey, pink or red in colour. Look out for any unusual lumps and bumps on your dog and seek veterinary help if you find anything unusual. Most lumps are benign but early intervention will give your dog the best chance of recovery if it the growth is found to be cancerous.
Tumors Of The Skin Glands
Most glandular tissue tumors in dogs are benign . Malignant glandular tumors include sebaceous gland carcinomas, apocrine gland carcinomas, and eccrine carcinomas. Sometimes benign tumors can be recognized visually, but it is still best to remove any questionable mass and submit the tissue for biopsy. Most malignant glandular tumors can be treated with surgery alone. However, if the tumors are incompletely excised, radiation therapy is recommended to prevent recurrence. Dogs with malignant tumors should also be screened for any evidence of spread of disease via chest X-rays and regional lymph node aspirates.
Causes Treatment And Prevention Of Dog Skin Cancer
Since dogs are covered in fur that helps protect them from harmful UV rays, it might surprise you to learn that they can actually get skin cancer.
But skin cancer can be caused by other things besides sun exposure, and your dogs fur isnt always going to keep him safe from the sun. All dogs are at risk for developing skin cancer, so its important to know the signs.
We reached out toDr. Jacqueline Brister, a veterinarian and consultant for Embrace Pet Insurance, to find out everything to know about skin cancer in dogs, including how its treated.
Cancer As A Systemic Disease
Cancer is systemic. This means it affects the whole body.
For example, if your dog has a malignant melanoma, you may see the tumor itself but you cant see how the cancer is affecting the rest of your dogs body.
So, when you choose to remove a tumor, youre just removing one part of the problem. Thats why tumors often come back, especially with skin cancer.
Theres something else at work thats causing the problem to begin with. Cancer in your dog means his immune system isnt working as well as it should. So you need to support the whole body.
How can you do that?
- Stop using heartworm drugs.
- If you must spay or neuter, wait until maturity, and do an ovary-sparing spay or vasectomy if possible.
- Avoid chemicals in your dogs environment. This includes household cleaners and pesticides.
Your attitude towards cancer also plays a role. Changing your perspective on cancer can make a big difference. Cancer is not a death sentence. Your emotions can have a significant impact on how happy and healthy your dog is.
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Tumors Originating Outside The Skin
All malignant tumors, wherever they originate, are capable of spreading to the skin. However, the spread of a primary tumor from inside the body to the skin is unusual. Although the appearance is variable, the tumors that spread to the skin are usually multiple, ulcerated lumps. As these tumors grow, they extend deeper into the skin and surrounding tissue. Generally, it is difficult to identify the primary tumor based on the signs in the skin. This is because only a small population of cells in the primary tumor will spread to the skin, and these cells may have different microscopic features than the primary tumor. When tumors have spread from other areas of the body to the skin, the primary tumor usually grows and spreads quickly and the outlook for a positive outcome is guarded to poor. Treatment for these tumors involves a whole-body approach that deal with both the skin tumors and the primary tumor.
Diagnosing Dog Skin Cancer
To diagnose dog skin cancer, your vet will need a sample from the suspicious area. Samples may be taken using fine needle aspiration which takes a small sample of the turmor’s cells to examine, or a biopsy which will allow your vet to take a portion of the tumor’s tissue for examination. Your pup’s tissue samples will then be sent to a lab to be analyzed in order to provide an accurate diagnosis of your dog’s condition.
If skin cancer is confirmed, your vet may recommend additional diagnostic testing to help determine the extent of your dog’s cancer as well as to optimize treatment and provide you with a more accurate prognosis.
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Benign Dog Skin Growths Lumps And Bumps
Benign skin growths are not a long-term health threat. That doesn’tmean that they cannot be quite large, with some growing to the size ofa basketball . These types of dog skintumors do not spread to adjacent tissue or other organs. Therecan be several benign dog skin growths on a dog at the same time andusually do not require any treatment.
Common types include:
- Cysts: dog skin cysts arepea-sized skin-covered sacs filled with a thick liquid.
- Warts: Warts are causedby a viral infection and are hard and have a rough-surface.
- Lipomas: A lipoma is acollection of soft fatty tissue that formsjust under the skin surface. These growths are usually the size of aquarter. If a lipoma develops in a way that interferes with the way adog walks, it might need to be removed. Some owners opt to remove largelipomas for cosmetic reasons. Lipomas are relatively easy to remove.
Types Of Skin Cancer Dogs Can Get
There are a number of types of skin tumors that dogs can develop. Some are harmless, while others are cancerous.
According to Dr. Brister, these are the most common types of skin tumors in dogs:
- Mast cell tumors
Adenomas, papillomas and histiocytomas are benign, meaning theyre not cancerous. Other types of skin tumors, such as mast cell tumors and some forms of melanoma, can be cancerous and quickly spread to other parts of the body.
Other skin cancers of concern in dogs include cutaneous lymphoma, squamous cell carcinoma, sarcomas and cancers that have metastasized from other parts of the body, Dr. Brister said.
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How Did My Dog Get Skin Cancer
Genetics play a large part in which dogs are more likely to get skin cancer. Factors such as too much sun exposure, environmental chemicals, hormonal abnormalities and certain viruses may also lead to skin cancer in dogs. While we cant control genetics, we can manage risk factors such as exposure to sunlight.
Why Cat & Dog Checkups Are Important
Annual cat and dog exams give your vet an opportunity to monitor your pet’s health, check for early signs of disease, and provide preventive treatments to help protect your pet against potentially life-threatening conditions. Here, our Huntersville vets explain the importance of routine exams for pets.
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Diagnosing Dog Skin Cancers
To diagnose skin cancer in dogs, your vet may perform a fine needle aspiration in order to take a small sample of the tumor’s cells to examine, or perform a biopsy in order to take a portion of the tumor’s tissue for examination. These samples will be analyzed at a lab in order for your veterinarian to provide you with an accurate diagnosis of your pup’s condition.
In order to determine the extent of your dog’s cancer additional diagnostic testing may be recommended. This can help to optimize treatment and give a more accurate prognosis for your pet.
Monitoring Your Dog’s Health
Spotting the signs of skin cancer while the disease is still in the early stages is the key to good treatment outcomes. Familiarizing yourself with all your dogs lumps, bumps, and rashes, during your regular grooming routine, as well as visiting your vet for routine wellness exams can help to catch skin cancers in the early stages.
Whenever you notice an unexplained or unusual lump or bump on your dog, or if you notice swelling around your dog’s toes consult your veterinarian. When it comes to your pet’s health it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
Note:The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition, please make an appointment with your vet.
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Signs Of Malignant Melanoma
Cases of malignant melanoma in dogs most commonly occur on the toes and in the mouth . Melanomas in the paw pads and nail beds may appear as toe swelling and redness. They may even be black in color. Advanced digit tumors can result in the loss of the affected toenail and destruction of the underlying bone, so owners may notice limping. According to the national Canine Cancer Foundation, 50 percent of these tumors spread to other parts of the body. Dogs with digit melanomas often develop a secondary infection, too, making diagnosis and treatment challenging.
In cases of oral melanomas, pups may exhibit an increase in salivation and even loose teeth. These tumors are often black or pink, and can also spread rapidly to areas including the lymph nodes and lungs.
How Do I Protect My Dog From Sunburn And Sun
Avoid letting your pet out in the sun at times of peak UV intensity, usually between 10am or 3pm, either by keeping them inside or ensuring that they remain in a well-shaded spot. If that is not possible, use sunscreen to protect their skin. Look for a specially formulated canine sun cream as these will be the safest and most effective, but if you are unable to find this, opt for one suitable for human babies instead. Check that it is fragrance-free, comes without an ingestion warnings, is non-staining and of an SPF of at least 15, ideally 30. Ingredients such as zinc, which are found in many adult sun creams, can be toxic to dogs if licked off and swallowed. Apply sunscreen liberally and reapply during sun exposure.
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What Causes This Type Cancer
The reason why a particular dog may develop this, or any cancer, is not straightforward. Very few cancers have a single known cause. Most seem to be caused by a complex mix of risk factors, some environmental and some genetic or hereditary.
As with SCC in humans, exposure to ultraviolet rays/sunlight has been attributed to the development of these tumors. Exposure to papilloma-like viruses appears to contribute to multicentric SCC in the mouth and other areas of the skin where squamous cells are present.
Certain breeds are known to have an increased incidence of SCC, including Scottish Terriers, Pekingese, Boxer Dogs, Poodles, and Norwegian Elkhounds. SCC of the skin is also more common in dogs that are sparsely haired and have light-colored hair and skin . In contrast, large-breed dark-coated dogs are more prone to SCC of the toes .
What Is Causing Skin Cancer In Dogs
Exposure to sun is the most quoted reason for skin cancer, but there are other possible explanations such as environmental factors, trauma and even genetics. Compulsive licking can damage the skin and there is some evidence to suggest that this can also cause skin cancer by encouraging cells to multiply forming cancerous masses.
Dogs with light coats and thin fur are known to be at higher risk of developing skin cancer, so pay particular attention if your pooch fits the description.
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How Can You Tell If A Spot Is Cancerous
Redness or new swelling beyond the border of a mole. Color that spreads from the border of a spot into surrounding skin. Itching, pain, or tenderness in an area that doesnt go away or goes away then comes back. Changes in the surface of a mole: oozing, scaliness, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump.
How Do I Know If My Dogs Lump Is Cancerous
Symptoms And Signs Of Cancer In Dogs Lumps and bumps underneath a dogs skin. Abnormal odors emanating from the mouth, ears, or any other part of the body. Abnormal discharge from the eyes, mouth, ears, or rectum. Abdominal swelling. Non-healing wounds or sores. Sudden and irreversible weight loss. Change in appetite.
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Prevention Of Skin Cancer In Dogs
When possible, limit your pet’s exposure to the sun, especially during peak UV hours. Pets with light colors or short fur may benefit from dog sunscreen.
Early intervention is extremely important for many types of skin tumors. It is very important to monitor your pet for the formation of lumps and bumps on their skin and for you to be an active advocate in its care by seeking an evaluation of the mass by your vet promptly.
Any mass, even one that has previously been diagnosed as benign, should be evaluated if a change in size, shape or color is noted or if there is any bleeding. Many cancerous or malignant masses can often recur in the same area, so it is important to watch your dog closely for any other masses and report them to your vet.
Subcutaneous And Dermal Hemangiosarcoma
The skin forms of hemangiosarcoma are less serious than blood forms. They can be managed topically or surgically removed.
These masses are either dermal or subcutaneous. The subcutaneous forms can also be called hypodermal both these terms mean below the skin.
- Are often related to sun exposure that damages cells
- Appear as rosy red or black growths in thinly haired spots on the body
- Will often appear in multiple areas of the body at once
- One-third of cases can spread internally so getting an early diagnosis is important
The dogs most at risk include:
- Dogs with short white fur
- Develop below the skin or become dermal growths that have spread
- Are more aggressive 60% spread into the body quickly
- Often appear as dark red blood growth under the skin but the skin above can look normal
- Require staging due to the risk of them spreading in the body so quickly.
- Surgery although itself risky decreases the risk of the growth spreading deeper into the body
These growths are more aggressive. Youll need to start treatment with your holistic vet immediately.
So I mentioned the need to stage these growths. Lets get into that.
Staging A Skin Hemangiosarcoma
The subcutaneous form of hemangiosarcoma wants to spread quickly. Staging is how your vet determines the extent of the cancer and the risk of spreading.
Staging helps your holistic vet develop the best treatment plan for your dog.
There are a few diagnostic tests your vet can run, including:
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Full Spectrum Hemp Cbd
CBD oil from organic hemp has many health benefits and a big one is fighting and killing cancer cells.
But what you may not realize is that you can use this healing oil topically too. It can help prevent cancer cells from multiplying and spreading. So its a great choice, whatever kind of skin cancer your dog has.
Treatment For Skin Cancer In Dogs
The typical treatment plan is surgery as soon as the vet has analyzed the mass and genetics. Most skin cancers are benign. Most non-malignant dog skin cancers can be managed favorably, letting dogs continue having homely, peaceful lives for the coming years.
A surgical procedure, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other sorts of treatments and medications may be options. This will depend on several factors, such as the type of tumor, position, and the progression or stage of cancer, along with your dogs age and overall health status.
With benign skin cancer, the chance of redevelopment is low, provided that the tumor has been completely removed. Skin cancers are prone to grow on several parts of the skin, so your dog may need potential lumps removed as well.
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How Does This Cancer Typically Progress
In the skin form of the disease, although spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs is possible, it is very uncommon. With SCC of the nose, spread may occur to the lymph nodes under the chin .
Dogs with multicentric SCC often develop new lesions in other sites after surgical removal of lesions.
The digit form of SCC is far more aggressive. It can spread to the local lymph nodes and beyond. For this reason, your veterinarian may recommend staging . Staging may include bloodwork, urinalysis, X-rays of the lungs, and possibly an abdominal ultrasound. If any lymph nodes appear to be affected , samples may be taken via FNA to determine if the tumor has spread into them.